Mon | Feb 19, 2018

When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life

Published:Sunday | July 3, 2016 | 12:00 AM
Cheers to you! (From left) British Airways' country manager, Dianne Corrie, the Jamaica Observer's Executive editor, Vernon Davidson, Public Relations Consultant, Marcia Erskine and the Gleaner's Barbara Ellington at the Taste of London.
Amba Hotel Marble Arch
The Changing of the Guard ceremony at Buckingham Palace in London.
A gigantic teapot on show at the Taste of London.
Kensington Palace
The Adelphi Theatre where the musical 'Kinky Boots' is now playing.
The entrance to Taste of London.
The Westminster Abbey (on the left), has been then venue for royal weddings, including the marriage of Prince William and Catherine Middleton in 2011.
The fabulous gardens at Buckingham Palace.

This discussion happened on September 20, 1777, between James Boswell and Samuel Johnson. Someone who hated to spend time alone, Johnson was always going out and enjoying what London had to offer.

Almost two and a half centuries later, London has changed immeasurably, and would be unrecognisable to both Boswell and Johnson, but those sentiments remain true. The arts, music, museums, festivals, and other entertainment in London, are second to none. London is widely believed to be the cultural capital of the world, and is truly the city that never sleeps - those who turn out for the day shift often meet those withdrawing from the night shift, and the cycle goes on.

Today, you will find a multicultural group of West Indians, Arabs, Chinese, Africans, Indians, Italians, Russians, Lithuanians, among those from other countries far and wide.

The cuisine is equally multicultural and one could enjoy a different dish every evening for a month with great ease.

Two weeks ago, I ate, drank, and savoured London in three nights and four days, returning to Jamaica hungry for more. The trip to the city of diversity was organised by British Airways, as part of the celebration of their 70th anniversary.

I still crave for a walk down Oxford Street to enjoy the best shopping you can ever imagine, while my appetite remains titillated by top class theatre musicals, Kinky Boots and Michael Jackson's 'Thriller', and my taste buds will never forget the world class sommeliers and chefs at the Taste of London festival at Regent Park.

Afternoon tea at the Amba Hotel Charing Cross, with the fantastic views over the Strand. The Terrace gets top grades if you are looking to indulge in a perfect selection of delicious sandwiches, cakes and an extensive choice of teas.

We started the afternoon with a chilled glass of Champagne and why not? Afternoon tea was the precursor to the musical that tells the story of an English Midlands shoe factory. Tagged 'Kinky Boots', the 2016 Olivier Award winning production, now being staged at the Adelphi Theatre was hilariously funny, while at the same time revolutionising the face of cross gender footwear. Kinky Boots has been extended to January 2017.

London is particularly renowned for its theatre quarter, and its West End theatre district has been given the name "West End theatre".

Tours, public transportation and car rentals are relatively good compared to other European cities. However, British Airways Holidays offers a number of travel packages including airport transfers, tours, car rentals and accommodation.

And if you book for example, air, hotel and transportation, you can access the BA 'Installment Package', which in my mind is a 'Layaway Vacation Plan'. This allows you to pay for your trip in one year before you travel, so for example, if you book in July, you commence a payment plan, which you must complete six weeks before travel.

What else I did

I did the morning London tour which is about four hours long - allowing me the afternoon for shopping.

Kensington Palace, Parliament Square and Westminster Abbey, were all part of a panoramic drive around, with stops at each.

Kensington Palace is the former home of Diana, Princess of Wales, and the Westminster Abbey has become a favourite venue for Royal weddings, including the marriage of Prince Williams and Catherine Middleton in 2011.

The most spectacular part of the tour was the colourful ceremony of the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace.

Later that evening, although my nostrils could not smell the food from as far as the Amba Hotel where I was staying, to the Regent's Park, I indulged at the world's greatest gastronomic festival - Taste of London. Within 10 minutes of boarding the Black Cab, there were no doubt we were in for a tasty day.

With more than 170 dishes on offer to sample from a stellar line-up of more than 40 of London's best restaurants, we were in for a treat.

Flocked by a host of culinary masters showcasing the latest in cooking, Taste of London was the place to taste the world.

So, London is also home to notable cultural attractions such as the British Museum. Entry to the museums is mostly free, and you can overdose on art and culture, without a wounded wallet.

For even more entertainment, there is Notting Hill Carnival, which has a distinct Caribbean flavour and draws people from all over the world. The O2 stages big artist from around the world almost on a weekly basis.

If you are a romantic, then a cruise down the river Thames on one of the various boats available is recommended, or just a slow playful walk down the river's south banks, playfully holding hands.

Other things to do:

Go to Canary Wharf to see what a 21 st century financial city-within - a city feels like. It is built in the old docks that used to connect to the West Indies. They have a museum there which is very informative and pulls no punches about historical trade links.

Combine it with a trip to Greenwich - one of London's most interesting suburbs, and see Harrods - possibly one of the most elegant department stores in the world.

Try to get out of London to one of the other cities - Liverpool. Manchester, York, all two hours by train. But book in advance - advance tickets can be very cheap.

Be sure to visit Windrush Square in Brixton and the Black Cultural Archive to see what it meant to be black in Britain back in the days.

London was very special for me because it is big! It has more people than many countries - and has so many contrasting areas.

London is the place to visit this summer. It's not too hot and not too cold.